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Rehabilitation Council of Texas 2014 Annual Report

Input and Recommendations of the State Rehabilitation Council

DRS Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Fuller

 

The Rehabilitation Council of Texas, which is the State Rehabilitation Council for Texas, met with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and Division for Blind Services (DBS) during the quarterly council meetings. During these meetings, DRS and DBS staff provided updates to the RCT, and the RCT provided input and recommendations to DRS and DBS.

The RCT uses a committee structure to provide more focused review and comment to DRS and DBS. These committees are the Executive Committee; the Planning and Review Committee; Policy, Procedure, and Personnel Development Committee; the Consumer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Committee; and the Education and Membership Committee. Much of the interaction with DRS and DBS included exchanges of information in order to achieve greater clarity and understanding. While the detail work is done in the committee structure, all comments and recommendations are made from the full RCT.

The following is a summary of the input and recommendations made from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014. Recommendations are transmitted to DRS and DBS both verbally at the RCT meetings and in writing throughout the year in committee reports, the full RCT meeting minutes and “to-do” lists.

For additional information

Go  to http://rsa.ed.gov/about-your-state.cfm?state=Texas

DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services
FY 2015 State Plan • Input and Recommendations

DRS appreciates the ongoing dialogue with the RCT throughout the fiscal year and extends special thanks to the RCT for its work on the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment, including its facilitation of the nine town hall meetings in fall 2013.

Input on Coordination with Education Officials:

The RCT is concerned that so much emphasis was being given to programs such as Project HIRE and Project SEARCH which impacted so few youth (8-12 per project).

The RCT recognizes that there are over 80,000 youth that currently have an individual education plan (IEP) and expressed concerned that the resources are not available to serve all the transition students that could benefit from vocational rehabilitation services. The material in this attachment1 seemed to focus on short term training. The RCT recommended a description that includes the assurance that the full range of services are available to transition students. A similar recommendation was made by the RCT for the FY 2014 plan.

DRS Response: DRS agreed with the RCT input related to Project HIRE and Project SEARCH. The language regarding both programs in this attachment was revised to more accurately reflect the broader scope of work with transition-age consumers.

Input on State Goals and Priorities:

The RCT requested clarification on Goal 1 regarding services that support quality employment to people with significant disabilities and yet to be determined Goal 6. At the time of the review, RCT was told that DRS management is meeting to decide the final goal. DRS returned to the RCT and presented the goals that the DRS had chosen. The RCT agreed to the goals as they were presented.

The RCT reminded DRS that, according to the State Plan, the state goals and priorities are to be developed in partnership with the RCT.

1The word “attachment” in this context refers to a section of the State Plan.

DRS Response: DRS included additional clarification on Goal 1 as requested by the RCT. DRS concurs with RCT’s reminder that the state goals and priorities are to be developed in partnership with the RCT. DRS is implementing improvements to the planning process for the FY 2016 plan, which will include engaging RCT earlier in the process to discuss state goals and priorities before they are drafted and submitted for review and comment by the RCT.

 

 

 

 

Recommendation on Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements for the Provision of Supported Employment Services:

The RCT suggested that the evidence of collaboration required in this attachment should include the outcome of the meetings.
The RCT suggested that the attachment may need to describe how they are working with the Employment First Task Force as its recommendations may have some impact on the issues related to collaboration with other programs. RCT requested detail of the collaborator’s roles and impact on improvement of services and outcomes is included.

DRS Response: DRS revised the language in this attachment to include plans for improving supported employment (SE) services.

Recommendation on Goals and Plans for Distribution of Title VI, Part B, Funds:
The number of persons that are expected to be served should be added.

DRS Response: DRS revised the attachment to include the numbers of SE consumers expected to be served in 2015.

Recommendation on Comprehensive Statewide Assessment:

The needs assessment did not go far enough to understand the real needs and where those needs are both geographically and population. We recommend that further assessments be conducted to refine and understand the result. As Texas is such a large and diverse state, we recommend assessments be broken down further on the regional level or some other comparable geographical areas to better understand the needs of Texans.

DRS Response: DRS agrees and will work closely with The University of Texas to expand the capacity of the needs assessment to more accurately identify the needs of individuals related to population and geographic location, particularly as related to underrepresented geographical regions across the state.

Recommendation on Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Services:

We appreciate the new format of this attachment that provides more context for annual estimates.

DRS Response:  DRS agrees with the RCT.

Recommendation on Comprehensive System of Personnel Development:

This section shows 29 current vacancies but anticipates only 10 vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRC), full time employees needed in the next six years. This projection does not appear to take into account attrition and retirement.

As was suggested for the FY 2014 plan, the agency should consider its staffing needs from a broader perspective to anticipate and plan for the qualified staff necessary
to serve its population.

DRS Response: DRS appreciates this recommendation. Before developing the FY 2016 state plan, DRS will work with DARS administration to evaluate the current process used to determine the agency staffing needs described in this attachment.

Recommendation on State’s Strategies and Use of Title I Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities:

This attachment is to address strategies for all goals. The strategies for goals related to mental illness are not included. In regard to Goal 1 related to meeting or exceeding the Standards and Indicators, and the strategies need to be more specific. We suggest the baseline be added to Goal 3.1 on transition and the target goal of the strategies be added to Goal 6.1.

DRS Response: DRS agrees and has

revised the language in this attachment to reflect the measures associated with the strategies and goals for consumers with mental illness; 2) revised language in this attachment to include specific strategies related to meeting or exceeding Standards and Indicators; 3) added a baseline number to Goal 3.1 related to transition; and 4) added a target goal for Measure 6.1.

Recommendation:

The RCT is concerned how the goals and strategies are communicated to the field to ensure staff members are accountable for reaching goals.

DRS Response: DRS appreciates the RCT’s concern and agrees that the goals and strategies must be communicated to DRS field staff to ensure clarity and accountability. DRS will implement multiple strategies to achieve this objective,
including discussion of state goals and strategies at meetings of management and field staff, inclusion of state goals and strategies in the DRS business plan, and issuance of written communication to all DRS staff.

Recommendation:

We recommend that planning for the FY 2016 state plan begin by October 2014 and the schedule of attachments development consider a more logical order. If this
recommendation is accepted, it will allow more time for the RCT to participate more fully in the development of the plan and evaluation of progress.

DRS Response: DRS agrees with this recommendation and will work closely with the RCT to create a timeline for the development and coordination of the 2016 state plan that better facilitates the RCT’s full participation by allowing more time for the RCT to provide meaningful input and recommendations.

DARS Division for Blind Services
FY 2015 State Plan Input and Recommendations

Input:
The RCT congratulated DBS for adding an additional transition counselor.

Recommendation on Cooperative Agreements with Agencies Not Carrying Out Activities Under the Statewide Workforce Investment System:

The attachment should be revised to include activities carried out with the State Independent Living Council.

DBS Response: This information was added to the attachment as requested.

Recommendation on Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements for the Provision of Supported Employment Services:

The RCT suggested that the attachment may need to describe how they are working with the Employment First Task Force as its recommendations may have some impact on issues related to collaboration with other programs. RCT requested detail of the collaborator’s roles and impact on improvement of services and outcomes should be included.
DBS Response: This information was added to the attachment as requested.

Input on Goals and Plans for Distribution of Title VI, Part B, Funds:

The attachment shows a significant difference of the number served. The RCT
asked why the number served has reduced.
DBS Response: The number served was updated.

 

 

 

 

Input on State Goals and Priorities:

It is recommended that Measure 4.1 be changed to 90 percent and Measure 4.2 be changed to 400. Measure 4.4 should be deleted as it has been accomplished.

DBS Response:  DBS revised attachment as   requested.

Input on Evaluation and Reports of Progress in Achieving Identified Goals and Priorities:

DBS has narrowly defined assistive technology in this attachment to include only computer related devices. Suggest that DBS add computer related before the words assistive technology to provide clarity and consider including other assistive technology that it provides to its consumers.

 

 


DBS Response: DBS revised this attachment as requested.

Input on Comprehensive Statewide Assessment:

The needs assessment did not go far enough to understand the real needs and where those needs are both geographically and population. We recommend that further assessments be conducted to refine and understand the result. As Texas is such a large and diverse state, we recommend assessments be broken down further on the regional level or some other comparable geographical areas to better understand the needs of Texans.

DBS Response: DBS will utilize this information to guide it in an effort to gather more in-depth data in the areas identified by the needs assessment.

Input on State’s Strategies and Use of Title I Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities:

In regard to the goal related to meeting or exceeding the Standards and Indicators, the information listed does not address strategies needed to meet or improve goals. Specific strategies should be listed.

DBS Response: DBS revised this attachment to include the specific strategies  addressed.

Input on Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Services:

This attachment was provided to the RCT as a final document one day before it was due. The RCT did not have sufficient time to consider the attachment. We request that RCT be involved in the development process earlier. We request that we be given a minimum of a week’s lead-time to review the material.

DBS Response: DBS will make every effort to comply with the request.

Recommendation:

We recommend that planning for the 2016 state plan begin by October 2014 and the schedule of attachment development consider a more logical order. If this
recommendation is accepted, it will allow more time for the RCT to participate more fully in the development of the plan and evaluation of progress.

DBS Response: DBS will make every effort to comply with the above recommendation.